For the past number of weeks, I have been wandering in a different universe. There, no one pays any attention to my presence or whether I wear clothing or not. It’s a world where everyone goes about their business as though I am not even there. Unknown to them, I am there, deep in their unconscious like some mythical god or goddess. Even though I am a male in this dimension, this universe, in this alternate world I am the invisible deity, an unknown yet powerful entity. There, I have the power of a creator and as a destroyer. Of course, for those that know me, I am talking about the universe that I have created out of nothing. No, there wasn’t some big bang that served as catalyst for this world, unless a thought is/was an equivalent. I am an author.
Today is day 27 of thirty days in November. I am writing this early in the morning while there is still darkness outside of my window. I have four more days, counting today, for the NaNoWriMo project – the National Novel Writing Month project [don’t ask me why the “national” word is used as my writing buddies are found all over the world]. The objective is to write the first draft of a new novel that has a minimum of 50,000 words. Once a writer reaches the fifty thousand word mark, he or she [or pick your own descriptor if he and she causes you an issue], the writer is declared a “winner!” But of course, there are no prizes, and rarely is the story completely drafted out.
Before I add a new word to the story today, the word total is 69,093. I have six, perhaps seven chapters left to write, enough to tell me that I won’t finish the first draft by the end of the month. Regardless, I have been declared a winner. That said, the characters in my story wouldn’t support that idea. I’m at point in the story where, if they thought of me at all, they would view me more like the Hindu Goddess of Destruction, Kali.
There is a lot of thought that goes on while writing a story. There are constant micro-decisions that need to be made as the world of a novel takes form. Those decisions aren’t simply based on thinking, a good number of them are based on what I could better describe as feeling. Does the situation feel right? Between thinking and feeling decisions, the world takes on a shape with a cast of characters taking form. Blending both thinking and feeling, the characters become life-like. Without both rational functions, the characters would be reduced to two-dimensional beings. Characters in a novel need to be complex if they are to achieve having a personality. [“Ah!” you say as you read these last words, “there it is, the psychobabble. He’s really talking about psychology again.”]
Yes, I am talking about the psychological dimension of personality that has been in my previous posts. I talked about introversion and extroversion, and I talked about the irrational functions of sensing and intuition. In this post, I refer to thinking and feeling which are rational functions. Think of the irrational functions as the psyche gathering information about the world around them. Every human gathers data using both irrational functions. The information comes in without our “rational” control. However, once the data is there, our brains can use that data in order to make decisions, hence the concept of rational functions. As with the irrational functions, all humans use both thinking and feeling to make these decisions though we don’t all use them equally.
Like introversion and extroversion, and like sensation and intuition, each of us typically has one function be the “go to” function. Think of the two functions as existing on a line with them as polar opposites like a magnet. When at a state of rest, by that I mean not using will power to determine which function to use, we naturally tend to either pole. We can stretch ourselves towards the opposite pole, something that you can understand as “work.”
F [feeling] <…………. X ……………> T [thinking]
I think you can easily see people in your life who tend to make decisions mostly using the Thinking function, the logical, analytical types. And, you also know others who mostly use the Feeling function to make decisions. There is no right or wrong function. They are functions and nothing more. And, I ask you as a reader to just let that idea sit there for a while. Allow the tension of opposites to simply exist.
Now, back to the novel, that is they key to having characters come to life. The reader needs characters to be more like real humans with personalities that aren’t two dimensional. As a result, all of the functions need to be brought into play to create complex beings. Now back to you. How do you see your complexity? How do you see yourself, your personality? Do others see you the way you see and understand yourself? Are you absolutely certain that you only use one function to gather information and only one function to make decisions based on that information? If you answer yes to this last question, I can bet that you are not as self-aware as you imagine. But that, is a different story for a different time.